September 21, 2010

Senator Gillibrand To Showcase New York Food And Farms In The Nation’s Capital

As First New York Senator In Nearly 40 Years To Serve On Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Gillibrand Is Improving Nutrition, Standing Up For New York Farmers

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is hosting the ninth annual “New York Farm Day” tonight in the Senate Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Building in Washington D.C. Senator Gillibrand has invited producers of New York’s award-winning wines, farm-fresh products and fresh seafood, as well as leading restaurateurs to travel to the nation’s capital to showcase the quality and diversity of New York’s agriculture, and its importance to the state’s economy. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted New York Farm Day during her time as New York’s junior senator, and Senator Gillibrand is continuing the tradition.

“I’m proud to continue the Farm Day tradition in Washington, DC, where we will highlight the fantastic produce and foods from across New York State,” Senator Gillibrand said. “As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I am focused on improving the health of our economy and the health of our families. From rising childhood obesity and outdated nutritional standards to the economic crisis facing our dairy farmers and specialty crop farmers, agriculture issues in Washington affect families in every corner of New York. Strengthening our agricultural sector and promoting good nutrition for New Yorkers are essential to our long-term health and economic growth.”

Over the years, New York Farm Day has become one of the most popular events at the nation’s Capitol.  Nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend.  With approximately one-quarter of New York made up of farmland and an agriculture sector contributing nearly $4.5 billion to the state’s economy each year, Farm Day offers an ideal opportunity to showcase the importance and quality of New York’s agricultural industry.

A complete list of all the participants in this year’s Farm Day can be found at the bottom of the release.

Senator Gillibrand is the first New York Senator in nearly 40 years to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Last month, Senator Gillibrand began holding listening sessions around the state to discuss new efforts to help New York farmers and farming communities, which she will continue holding in the coming months. Senator Gillibrand plans to focus on key areas of the Farm Bill that will have major influence on New York, including access to financing, new market opportunities, assistance for specialty crops, and investments in renewable energy.  From dairy farms, black dirt farms, and apple orchards to vineyards, artisanal cheeses, and other specialty crops, New York farmers and communities will have a lot to gain in the next Farm Bill.

Today, Senator Gillibrand announced new efforts that have been generated through the Senator’s listening tour.

CREATING FAIR OPPORTUNITY FOR DAIRY FARMERS:

In July, the European Union (EU) announced that it would no longer accept any exports from the U.S. unless they adopt a national standard somatic cell count of 400,000 cells/milliliter or less. The EU will start banning exports from the US this December.  This would have disastrous consequences as the EU is a major market for U.S. cheese and whey products. New York daily is a national leader of milk quality and would easily meet these standards.

Senator Gillibrand today called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make an emergency rule change to preserve this export market for U.S. dairy farmers. She also introduced legislation that would lower the legal somatic cell count (SCC) in fluid milk from 750,000 cells/milliliter to 400,000 cells/milliliter. This legislation would also change the method of calculation to update U.S. milk quality standards and bring them in line with those of our major dairy trading partners and competitors, including Canada, the EU, and New Zealand. 

SCC is the basic barometer of milk quality. Somatic cells themselves are not a health risk, but they are an indirect measure of overall animal health and milk quality.  An elevated SCC is indicative of poor hygiene practices, improper sanitation, and/or mammary infection.  All dairy herds participating in DHI testing receive monthly SCC counts for each individual cow as well as daily bulk tank counts and monthly averages for the farm as a whole, enabling farmers to cull chronically ill animals and pinpoint the exact cause of elevated SCC counts.  In 2008, the average SCC in the U.S. was 262,000 cells/ml, which is far below the legal limit of 750,000 cells/ml.    

Lowering the SCC legal limit will have potential benefits for both producers and consumers. Milk with low SCC has a longer shelf life, better taste, and greater cheese yield.  Studies have shown that for every doubling of somatic cell counts in a herd, milk production drops by 400 pounds per cow per lactation. Many cooperatives already provide incentives for farmers to produce milk under the legal SCC limit, and for the last 7 years the national average SCC count has declined.

EXPANDING FARM CREDIT:

The recent economic downturn has caused many farm families to suffer. As a result, the balance sheets of millions of farmers are considerably weaker, making access to loan guarantees and direct loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) critical. 

 

Unfortunately, two types of business structures that are increasingly common among family farms do not qualify for loans through FSA.  Today, many family farms have both a farm ownership LLC and farm operating LLC to facilitate ownership of multiple family members. This may be done for liability protection and to facilitate the transfer of a farm business between generations. However, because the operator of the farm (the operating LLC) does not own the farm (farm ownership LLC), the farm is not eligible for a loan. 

Farms operating with an embedded entity structure are also currently ineligible for an FSA guarantee.  An embedded entity occurs when one entity is owned wholly or partly by another entity.  This embedded entity situation is occurring more frequently as more farmers complete estate planning.  For example, Joe and Jane Farmer may decide to transfer their individual ownership interests in Farm Operating, LLC to Joe Farmer Revocable Trust and Jane Farmer Revocable Trust per their estate plan.  However, once the trusts own the LLC, the LLC is no longer eligible for a FSA guarantee although the farm operation has not fundamentally changed.

Senator Gillibrand is introducing the Farm Credit Expansion Act in the Senate which would make these two structures eligible entities for FSA loans.  The financial challenges facing family farms due to the economic downturn have made access to credit critical. 

ASSISTANCE FOR SPECIALTY FARMERS:

Senator Gillibrand is introducing the Conservation on Muck Soils (COMS) Act, a program that would provide $300 to $500 in payment to farmers who implement specific soil conservation practices on muck soils. The conservation practices set out by the COMS would significantly reduce wind and water erosion. The COMS program would promote good conservation practices while keeping valuable lands in farming production. This program would benefit historically under-served vegetable and fruit farmers. 

Muck soils, a highly organic, very valuable soil, are a minority soil type found in limited locations across the country, including New York. Crops grown on it produce high yields and require significantly less commercial fertilizers than crops grown on other soil types. Being such a highly valuable natural resource, which produces bountiful yields of various vegetables and fruits, it requires significant attention and protection.

 

FARM DAY PARTICIPANTS

 

LONG ISLAND:

 

Cool Fish Restaurant— Cool Fish Restaurant of Long Island will be serving seared yellow fin tuna with Satur Farm’s licorice greens, pickled watermelon radish and voodoo sauce.

Long Island Farm Bureau— The Long Island Farm Bureau will be providing Schmitt’s fresh Mixed Greens and Catapano Goat Cheese topped with a Vinaigrette Dressing, North Fork Potato Chips, Fresh Oysters farmed by Aeros Cultered Oysters and Hard Clams farmed by F.M. Flower & Son and Noank Aquaculture Cooperative, and smoked duck from Crescent Duck Farm.

Long Island Wines – For over a quarter century, the Long Island wine industry has grown from one small vineyard to over 3,000 acres of vines and over thirty wineries producing world-class wines. These quality wines, including Harbes Family Vineyard, Martha Clara Vineyards, Suhru Wines, and Wölffer Estate, will be on full display at Farm Day.

HUDSON VALLEY:

Hudson Valley Specialty Products – Will be serving pesto tofu with roasted vegetables, sliced fruit and berry juice.

Hudson Valley Wines – One of America’s oldest wine making and grape-growing regions, the Hudson Valley has more than 20 operating wineries producing premier wine products. Wines on hand this year will be from Brotherhood, America’s Oldest Winery, Benmarl Winery and Millbrook Vineyards & Winery.

CENTRAL NEW YORK:

Chobani Yogurt

Crackerman of Etna Crackers and products from Cherry Knoll Farm, both with the Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty

 

ROCHESTER/FINGER LAKES:

NY Apple Association – Featuring fresh New York State apples and juice

Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty – The Culinary Bounty links the farms and wineries of the Finger Lakes region to small-scale food processors to provide area residents and tourists with fresh, locally produced creative cuisine.  This year, they will be featuring Nunda Mustard, Golden Oaks Foods, Penn Yan; Crackerman Crackers, Freeville; Lively Run Goat Dairy Chevre, Interlaken; Onion Jelly, Sacheli Farms, Middlesex; Chutney Fever, Variety of Chutney, Trumansburg; Hill 'n' Hollow Farm, Jams & Chutney, Pavilion; Knapp Farm, Jams & Salsa, Lowman; Crabapple Sauce, Geneva; Chef Lerman Salad Dressing, Penn Yan.

Finger Lakes Wines – In large part to Finger Lakes Wine Country, New York now boasts over 80 wineries, making it the largest wine producing region east of California. Wines available at Farm Day will come from Americana Vineyards, Hosmer Winery, King Ferry Winery (Treleavan Wines), Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, and Standing Stone Vineyards. Also featuring Anthony Road Wine Company, Casa Larga Vineyards, Cascata Winery, Fox Run Vineyards, Glenora Wine Cellars, Billsboro Winery, Fulkseron Winery, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Lakewood Vineyards, Red New Cellars, Three Brothers Wineries & Estates.

Foodlink/Freshwise Farms – A hydroponic greenhouse, Freshwise Farms provides the highest quality, pesticide-free greens year-round, fighting hunger as a social enterprise through its affiliation with the Foodlink Foundation.  They will be displaying Spring Roll stuffed with Freshwise Farm’s own fresh red basil, carrots, daikon radish greens, leeks and local bok choy, alfalfa sprouts, chive and bell peppers with a peanut hoisen dipping sauce. 


New York Wine & Culinary Center
– The Wine & Culinary Center is designed to engage, excite and inspire the people of New York State and the world in a celebration of New York wine and food. The Center is an educational and experiential gateway to New York State’s incredible wine, food and culinary industries. They will be handing out tasty truffles at Farm Day.

SOUTHERN TIER

Cornell University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences— As one of New York’s premier schools of agriculture, Cornell will be presenting sample apples of the future from its Apple Breeding Program.

Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese, as part of the Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty

Red Newt Cellars Winery & Bistro – The Red Newt Bistro represents the finest in fresh regional cuisine of the Finger Lakes, with every menu built with the diner and the farmer in mind.  They will be displaying Finger Lakes Food Company Verjus Curd Mousse with Church St. Produce Raspberries and Raspberry Coulis.

 

WESTERN NEW YORK:

 

Lake Erie, Chautauqua & Niagara Wines – In addition to French-American and European winegrape varieties, Western New York is home to a large bounty of Concord grapes used for grape juice, making New York the largest grape juice producing state in the country. Wines on hand come from Johnson Estate Winery, Mazza Chautauqua Cellars, and The Winery at Marjim Manor.

National Grape Cooperative/Welch’s— For well over a century, the National Grape Cooperative based in Westfield, which owns Welch’s, has been a leading supplier of Concord grape juice, and will be displaying Sparkling Red & White Grape Juice and “Welch’s Essentials – Concord Grape.”

 

CAPITAL REGION:

 

Local Ocean – Featuring fresh New York raised sea bream (royal dorade) prepared in a ceviche syle.

 

NORTH COUNTRY:

Ice Wines of New York—Ice wines are a highly specialized dessert wine made from grapes that are left hanging on the vine, becoming very sweet, until they are actually frozen and then harvested.  The ice wines from Farm Day will be from Casa Larga Vineyards, Hunt Country Vineyards, Johnson Estate Winery, Standing Stone Vineyards.

McCadam Cheese— Established in Heuvelton, New York in 1876, McCadam Cheese produces up to 20 different cheeses and will be displaying McCadam Wicked Sharp Cheddar, McCadam Pepper Jack, and McCadam Horseradish Cheddar.

Mercer’s Ice Cream— Mercer’s Ice Cream of New York’s North Country will have on hand its famous wine ice cream, featuring Royal White Riesling, Cherry Merlot, and Chocolate Cabernet Wine Ice Cream, and Adirondack Brownie Ice Cream.

North Country Specialties—North Country Specialties will be providing Suprenant's Dairy Farm Raspberry Pepper Jam over  cream cheese, Adirondack Beef Company All Natural Beef Sticks, Moser Maple Products Sweet Shots, Sustain Adirondack Brand Potato Chips with Sustain Adirondack Brand Roasted Garlic Salsa.

 

NEW YORK CITY:

Frankies Spuntino – Featuring radish salad with parsley, capers and anchovies made with local produce from the Brooklyn Grange.

Telepan – Featuring smoked guinea hen (Violet Hill Farm) with a salad of Brussels sprouts, faro & pear; apple pie crescents with an apple butter compote.

Also featured as an exhibitor at this year’s Farm Day will be the State University of New York. The sponsors of the event include Wine and Grape Foundation, CoBank, Constellation Brands, Farm Credit East, Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corp., Long Island Farm Bureau, Mastercraft, New York Apple Association, New York Farm Bureau, New York State Restaurant Association, and Yankee Farm Credit.